Thyroid cartilage

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The human larynx rests in a frame of cartilage bound by ligaments and muscles. At the front is the thyroid cartilage, creating the lump at the front of the neck, known as the laryngeal prominence, more commonly known as the Adam's apple.

The etymology of the term is unclear: Webster's 1913 dictionary states that the term "... is so called from a notion that it was caused by the forbidden fruit, (an apple) sticking in the throat of Adam and Eve."

The larynx grows in males and females during puberty. However, the Adam's apple is generally more prominent in adult men than in women or pre-pubescent girls or boys. (The growth of the larynx is the reason for voice cracking in boys and girls during puberty.)

For some trans women, the Adam's apple remains more prominent than desired, sometimes remedied by a trachea shave, a type of plastic surgery to reduce the size of the Adam's apple. Despite this, it is not extremely uncommon for biological females to have a small to large Adam's apple.

The thyroid cartilage is the largest of the nine cartilages that make up the laryngeal skeleton, the cartilage structure in and around the trachea that contains the larynx. It is composed of two platelike lamina that come together on the anterior side of the cartilage to form a peak, called the laryngeal prominence. This prominence is often referred to as the "Adam's Apple". The laryngeal prominence is obvious in both sexes, but it tends to be somewhat more robust in the adult male. The lip of the thyroid cartilage just superior to the laryngeal prominence is called the thyroid notch or superior thyroid notch.

The two laminae that make up the main lateral surfaces of the thyroid cartilage extend obliquely to cover either side of the trachea. The posterior edge of each lamina joint with the cricoid cartilage inferiorly at a joint called the cricothyroid joint. Movement of the cartilage at this joint produces a change in tension at the vocal cords, which in turn produces variation in voice. The entire superior edge of the thyroid cartilage is attached to the hyoid bone by the thyroid membrane.

The thyroid cartilage serves to protect the larynx, which is located directly behind it. It also serves as an attachment for several laryngeal muscles.


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